Movie Review : Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice (2016)
The challenge of reviewing blockbuster movies is that everybody already has an opinion on them. Whether you've seen Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or not, you probably made your mind about the movie and I don't have the clout to change it. I'm not here to convince you it's a misunderstood masterpiece. Since I'm a fan of DC Comics, I sat through another three hours of Zack Snyder during my off week and hoped like hell it wouldn't burn my eyeballs. Let me confirm: the movie IS the disaster Rotten Tomatoes announced last spring, it's just less of a disaster than Man of Steel. That's what you get for investing your financial future into Zack Snyder and his untreated case of megalomania.
The story of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is rather complicated from the get go and requires you to have a decent culture of DC Comics and...sigh...Zack Snyder movies. The movie opens right at the end of Man of Steel during the final confrontation between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon). Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is witnessing the chaos from across the river * with other terrified and clueless citizens of Gotham City, wondering if the end of the world has come. Metropolis' resident billionaire and megalomaniac tycoon Lex Luthor (played by a ridiculously sympathetic Jesse Eisenberg) is also struggling with the presence of aliens with Godlike powers, so he decides to foster the rupture between superman and humanity **, which involves a Gladiator match between Superman and Gotham City's vigilante.
So, what's so terrible about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Can such a blockbuster movie REALLY be such a dud? The answer is unfortunately yes and the reasons why Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sucks are unpleasant. The idea behind the screenplay is great, but it doesn't work. The clash between humans and the divine. I'm impressed a Zack Snyder-lead team even had such a cool idea. Unfortunately, the concept overrides everything in that movie, even the essential notion of entertainment, and throws the characters so far off their usual identity it becomes a pissing contest between Captain Miserable and Obsessive Millionaire Douchebag. Superman saves people (like 3 or 4 of them over three hours, including Lois Lane (Amy Adams) TWICE) with an constant emo pout on his face and Batman murders everyone and brands criminals like a demented street gang leader. What the fuck?
Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is that it seems like Zack Snyder really tries for a moment and then quits on you in the middle of the movie. Sure, the movie is ridiculously mopey and over-the-top Goth, but Snyder often shows restraint and craftiness in the first two hours of the film. It is best exemplified in the, you know, actual fight between Batman and Superman, which I actually really liked. It's not a series of meaningless punches and kicks. It has a dramatic progression to it and say what you want about the plot twist everybody made fun of, but I thought it made a lot of sense in context. Then, right when the movie should end, Snyder wedges an iconic comic book storyline that DOESN'T belong in this movie into it and makes everything explode for forty-five minutes. Fuck YOU.
I hate Zack Snyder for ruining epic. He never builds towards any sense of scope, it's just there for him to abuse of in every fucking movie he makes. He directs movies like an intoxicated twelve year old kid tries to recall a story to his parents. And we're not done with him. He's going to direct the two upcoming Justice League films, forcing his crap down every DC Comics fans throat. The good news is that he seems to be learning from one superhero movie to another AND Warner Bros seems less and less interested in investing money into him. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a dud, though. I've heard of this movie for over a decade and when it came out it was a giant, slick-looking, Goth-y turd and it will forever remain a giant, slick-looking-Goth-y turd with obtrusive product placement masquerading as dream sequences . Sometimes, the universe just breaks your heart and takes a dump on your feelings.
* Metropolis and Gotham City are face to face and separated by the Hudson River in DC Universe, making them the equivalent of New York (Metropolis) and...Newark?
** The same way our very real billionaire and megalomaniac tycoon Donald Trump is fostering ruptures between everybody.